12/13/14 08:18 pm - ziggyzest
Hi there everyone, I wonder if anyone reads this community still. I'm a Third Culture Kid/Adult. I was born in Russia, moved to the UK when I was 7 and then lived in Berlin, Germany when I was 16-25 where I attended an American International school. Now I'm back in the UK and starting to lose my trilingual identity as I'm starting to forget german and this pains me. It's like losing a part of yourself, forgetting a language. Nobody seems to get me. When once challenging a priest a few years ago for calling my mother Russian, when she's been a British citizen for 15 years now, I was shocked when my mother got cross at me for being cross with the priest for not understanding that her identity was more complex than just Russian. My mother herself does not understand that her identity is more complex than just Russian due to the places that she's lived in. But then again she only moved abroad when she was in her 40's, it's not like she was brought up here or anything. Everytime someone asks me where I'm from I freeze up because I panic that I'm acquiring an accent (which I don't) due to speaking Russian at home these days since the family breakdown ( my step family, when I was growing up, was English and we used to speak 2 languages at home) when my English has always been perfect and there shouldn't be anything to indicate me as not being from here. I get angry everytime my mother reminds me that I was born in Russia ( usually when I remind her that I'm a TCK. I don't wish to be Russian. I don't like the politics/culture of the place, I cringe at the lack of good cinema/music/fashion over there. Nobody likes Russians. We're seen as vodka drinking good for nothings that can't seem to sort their own country out politically-wise. We're Bolsheviks, revolutionaries, communists, corrupt oligarghs, devout christians ( my mother is Russian orthodox, alas. I cringe at this. No sense of style, my mother. Who in their right mind wants to be Russian orthodox?? No sex before marriage for goodness sake, just to name one aspect of it.), ugly baboushkas in scarves. We're all piano playing ballerinas ( alas I was this as a child). We're the people that can't seem to export anything more modern than Leo Tolstoy, Chekhov, Pushkin and Dostoyevsky ( not that I have anything against them but come on, it's surely time to export something new!). We're the cold war and kgb spies. We're the people that used to queue for a loaf of bread for over 3 hours, a loaf of bread that cost us half our month's wages. We're a paradox of a mess. Always have been, always will be. There is nothing popular or cool about being Russian. It's kitsch and cliche. I don't want to be this. I don't want to lose the richness of being a Third Culture Adult, able to converse and breathe in 3 languages and cultures as opposed to just one. I don't want to forget German and English, both of which I seem to be starting to forget. My German, because I'm not living in Germany, my English, because I live a quiet Emigre life in a Russian speaking household, ( with my mother) even though I live in the UK. I'm a freelance translator, I deal with languages every day but nevertheless, I find myself forgetting them. How can one make sure that one stays a trilingual TCK in a country where even speaking the local language can be a challenge because local people don't wish to give one a chance to converse. England's an unfriendly place to live. Nobody speaks to you, rushes to befriend you the way they do in other countries. All you can rely on is your family, and once you don't have that you don't have anything. I went to a snooty all girl's school over here as a teen, didn't really make many friends until we moved to Berlin and I went to the American International School which is where I was to make friends with the people that back then meant the most to me in my life. Unfortunately since then we've all split up and live in different countries from one another. They were fellow bilinguals/TCK's. I feel lost in the world without them. I miss them so much it hurts. But I quarelled badly with them a few years back ( because I felt they were starting to forget me living their new lives, at uni, etc) and nothing has been the same since. I'm still in touch regularly with one of them though and this keeps me going. Any tips from fellow TCK's on staying a TCK? How do you keep up your different languages? How do you manage to hold on to your identity? Are there any of you who have moved back to your original countries and are facing the same dillemma as me? Any words of advice would be helpful.